Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Kelsey Mars, editor of Heather.
What style of work do you prefer, if any?
I prefer things that are a little strange or weird. I like the “shop of curiosities” vibe. A good example of this is Sociopaths In Love by Andersen Prunty or The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. I like a style that is so intimately unique, that is effortless in its expression. I don’t want to see the seams but rather, style should be like the magician’s sleight of hand.
What other literary magazines do you admire?
I’m deeply indebted to Paper Darts for the endless inspiration they’ve given me for years. That publication is like a lighthouse to me. I would not be putting out Heather if it weren’t for Paper Darts.
What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?
I don’t think writers who submit have to do anything when submitting to Heather, except to provide pieces that are genuine and distinct.
What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?
I want Heather to be known for publishing things that might fall to the wayside with other publications for not being exactly right. I want to read all the other pieces that were turned down because the editor didn’t “get it.” I want you to read Heather and be thinking about a phrase all day, unable to get it out of your mind. Basically, I want it to be a ghost of everything that you tried to avoid because the unknown is spooky.
What types of submissions are on your wish list?
Anything experimental that plays with form or isn’t necessarily a “traditional” narrative. That is, I want to publish more pieces like “Multiple Choice” by Maggie Cooper, which was published in our first issue. Paragraphs are very nice, but I want to see what we can do if we forget about paragraphs. I want to see all the fun things you wrote in the middle of the night when you couldn’t sleep.
What made you want to be an editor?
I deeply want to give voice to people who feel like they have none. I want a space for the things we’re too embarrassed to share or submit for publication. I want writers to embrace their authentic voice, instead of trying to replicate what they think a writer should sound like.
What kind of things do you write?
I write magical realism, science fiction, anything that doesn’t quite take place in the reality that is known to us. Rather, what I write takes place just slightly to the left of reality.
Where did you get the name of your magazine?
Heather is a traditionally feminine name. I wanted something that sounded like the girl you grew up with, who became something much more than anyone expected. Also, the movie Heathers is extremely important cinema.
What inspired your aesthetic?
Arvida Bystrom, first and foremost. CR Fashion Book, Paper Magazine, Lady Gaga, the Lemonade album and Warsan Shire, Rookie Magazine, The Ardorous. That photo series “There Will Be Blood.” YM Magazine. Bystrom did a great photo series with young women’s hands, long acrylic nails and holding iPhones which had three missed calls from “world” or a text from “internet” reading “Love that we’ve been hanging out so much lately.” I just looked it up and it’s called “Depression Calls.” Arvida Bystrom is amazing.
What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?
I want to grow a community around the content we publish. Hopefully we gain a large enough readership to run contests that benefit the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Ali Forney Center. I also hope to publish an physical anthology soon for our first two issues.
Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.